The virtual and augmented reality sector is growing, and this is reflected in the rising number of brands that are patenting more futuristic products. They’re using technology that seems to anticipate the very needs of the market. This is a segment of the market where big players like Google, Microsoft, Sony, Facebook (Oculus), Htc and Samsung are all competing. And now it’s leaked that Apple has decisively thrown its hat into the VR ring, and that it aims to put the most innovative headset yet into the hands of consumers by 2020.
What we know about Apple’s new T288 headset
CNET was the one to break the story. According to reports, a project known as T288 within the Cupertino company refers to a visor with an 8K display for each eye, with higher resolution than the best TVs on the market today. This puts it miles above any smartphone or computer currently in circulation, says CNET’s source. It’s no surprise the Tim Cook is going in this direction. In fact, the CEO has repeatedly confirmed his interest in augmented reality, saying that the technology could have the same impact on the world that the iPhone did.
“The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives,” he explained in an interview for British newspaper The Independent. He predicted that it would become a focus for Apple with the introduction of augmented and virtual reality technology within the iOS for iPhone and iPad. The wireless headset would connect to a base station using a ultra fast wifi connection (WiGig 2.0, patented specifically to connect VR headsets and IoT devices). The fixed base will be the single command system and be equipped with a new generation Apple chip.
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The advantages of augmented reality
Even Mark Zuckerberg with Oculus expressed his preference for augmented reality. And this position was seconded by Michael Abrash, Head of Research, who is convinced of the superior possibilities offered by AR compared to Virtual Reality. Tim Cook shares this opinion because augmented reality lets users stay in closer contact with reality and be less immersed in a parallel dimension. In fact, up to this point Apple’s efforts have mainly been focused on augmented reality: the latest version of iOS, for example, will introduce ARKit, a technical infrastructure which will enable hundreds of apps to employ AR for anything from entertainment to marketing to social networking.
However, CNET’s source maintains that the new T288 headset will combine AR and VR. In contrast, TechCrunch calls the technology Apple’s project uses “mixed reality” — that is, technology that can draw information from the reality of the surroundings to influence the user’s VR experience. This may be Apple’s ultimate goal considering that the VrVana was in development, a headset startup acquired just last year by the Cupertina company.
16K headsets: the potential of AR/VR technology
Apple would like to release their 16K headsets by 2020. It’s true that there’s still plenty of time to change the T288 project, or even abandon it completely, even if that’s an unlikely scenario — looking at the potential, the market for augmented and virtual reality is estimated by some analysts to reach about 10 billion dollars a year by 2022. So even if AR and VR technology is still in its infancy, experts expect that this market will explode in the coming years. And it’s not just Apple. Rumour has it that Magic Leap is also investing billions in the development of the technology. And according to reports, Samsung is working on a wireless headset, the Odyssey, which will integrate virtual and augmented reality and would be a direct competitor for the Apple device. Everyone is focusing on the technology, searching for the most innovative device, and trying to be the fastest to conquer the market. They’re all thrilled by the knowledge that this technology will change the way we see our world.